21 December 2008

Lacking in...

Confidence or Motivation. I'm not sure which?

My boat sat at the take out for the Kent.

A post popped up on the UK Rivers Guidebook the other week about how to deal with a lack in confidence whilst paddling. At the time I could draw some comparisons with what was being said and, only now, after having a day out in the Lakes on two rivers, which I have probably run the most, out of all the rivers in the Lake District, come to the conclusion that I may also have lost a bit of my confidence.

On the opening stretches of the Kent.

Today, whilst on the Kent I was decidedly edgy above rapids, that previously I have bombed off without question, and all the way down the river I was slightly apprehensive about the 3m+ drop of Force Falls at the very end. I don't know why this is though?

In the main gorge of the Kent.

Yes I took a swim the other week whilst paddling the Fairy Glen, and that could be attributed to the nature of the river, however deep down I know it was more of a problem with my roll than anything else. Maybe that's what it can all be attributed to; a decline in my roll. It's not been coming easy of late and today was a prime example when I had a bit of an inverted moment on the drop above the L-shaped weir. I had two or three attempts before I managed to drag, and I emphasise drag, my boat the right way up so I could breath oxygen again.

Force Falls.

One blessing can come from today's paddle down the Kent however and that was my dry line down Force Falls. The river was at a fairly high level today, opening up a boof line on river left, which I have seen before, but have never really gone for. I went for it today, mainly because I didn't fancy the line down the middle, which probably would have ended up with me getting a kicking in the hole at the bottom.

Maybe that's where my confidence has been lost; in negative visualisation. However, of late, it seems that holes have been my downfall and I've either ended up getting surfed in them or flipped by them. I suppose this could be one of those annoying Catch 22 scenarios. I get all tense around holes, making the boat really twitchy, thus the force of the recirculating water has more of an impact on the boat, causing a drop in confidence, meaning I'm all tense around holes and so on.


After the Kent we headed over to the Leven for a quick blast down the river. The prospect of the fall under Backbarrow Bridge had me all apprehensive, just like Force Falls had earlier. In the end I decided to walk the falls, which probably was the best thing for me at that specific time. If I had run the falls and took a bit of a beating, like on my previous run a couple of weeks ago, my confidence would probably spiral downwards ever more.

Below Backbarrow Bridge, the falls and the weir.

As for the question: 'confidence or motivation. I'm not sure which?' I would probably say that the fall in confidence is directly related to my level of motivation towards paddling. I need to be able to keep my moral for boating at a high level so that I can spend time in the boat, and on the water, which is what, from skimming the posts on the UK Rivers Guidebook, is said to help improve your confidence after a slight knock. I suppose some work on my roll will be essential so that it feels more solid and is at a similar standard to a few years back, therefore helping improve my confidence.

I could be off over to Swaledale tomorrow to fall down the Keld Gorge. It could be just what the doctor ordered.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...
Iain

1 comment:

Chuck W said...

Loads of kayakers can relate to your feelings. I've had'em too. A river back home called the Nantahala has a class III rapid at the end with a pair of holes in it. I had run it four times clean until a cold October day in 2006. I ran it that morning guiding two of my pals down, upset and swam. I didn't have my roll back then.

I said I wanted another stab at it, walked back up and put on for another run. As I headed down the entrance rapids I was tense and not "loose" like we're supposed to be. I hit one rock too many catching an eddy and flipped. I bailed and swam like mad to avoid swimming the holes.

After that we 3 were meeting 4 others to go down the whole river. I wimped out, saying I was too cold, etc. I was out of my game for more than a month before I got control of my nerves.

The following January I got my first combat roll at the bottom of another, harder rapid. Life was so much better after that! Give it time, keep paddling and remember in winter those rapids are just a touch more intimidating because it's a really cold swim if you continue to miss rolls.

Do you have a winter roll practice you can attend? Even in a pool, any practice at the fundamentals will help you get it back to a solid roll.